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Rare blitz of tornadoes leaves central Illinois with damage, injuries

A screengrab from a video taken in Butler, Ill. on Staurday which shows a possible tornado. @hannahfoges_tbh/Twitter

Central Illinois is coping with damage and injuries after a rare blitz of tornadoes Saturday, when 22 twisters were reported to the National Weather Service.

Hardest hit was the town of Taylorville, about 30 miles southeast of the capital of Springfield. Storm winds wrecked houses, downed power lines and pulled trees up by the roots.

“It’s a miracle no one was killed in the tragedy of these tornadoes,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner, who toured the area on Sunday.

At least three people are being treated for major injuries at Memorial Hospital in Springfield and 18 more suffered minor injuries, Rauner said. The governor activated Illinois’ State of Emergency Operations Center.

No one was killed as a result of the twisters, Taylorville Fire Department Chief Mike Crews said. Several people who were trapped in their homes were eventually rescued, he said.

“There were several people who were initially trapped in their homes due to damage initially but were rescued,” Crews said.

Illinois has an average of 47 tornadoes a year, not including December, which doesn’t have an average, said CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, speaking of the rarity of Saturday’s twister cluster. May is the peak month, with an average of 15 tornadoes.

A screengrab from a video taken in Butler, Ill. on Staurday which shows a possible tornado. @hannahfoges_tbh/Twitter

“Almost everything set up for the perfect conditions” for the outbreak, Chinchar said, as a strong cold front pushed through.

In Butler, south of Springfield, Hannah Fogle tweeted two videos of a funnel cloud.

A tornado mainly went through the countryside, she said. “I know of one house that had major damage,” she added.

The National Weather Service sent out survey teams Sunday to analyze the damage, and said the exact number of tornadoes and the amount of damage wouldn’t be determined until these are completed.

More than 2,000 people remained without power in Taylorville, according to Illinois electric and gas delivery company Ameren and CTI Fiber Network.

In Georgia, an apparent tornado hit Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay on Sunday, according to public affairs officer Scott Bassett. There was some damage to a pier, power poles were knocked down and at least one truck flipped over.

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